a little over a year ago, i wrote this short poem and shared it in this space:
as i sit inside the missing
spring brings with her each year,
i pretend all of who you are
has arrived by chickadee wing
and your chosen path
is to slowly blow open
each petal of the crocus
As the rain falls while I write and answer emails from women who are opening their hearts to healing through creativity and sharing their stories, my own stories keep coming up and for some reason I thought of this poem.
Spring is all about my grandmother. So often as a child I would visit my grandparents in South Carolina during spreak break. Almost everything would be in bloom. And she would constantly comment on every single blooming plant we would see in their yard or driving in the car or walking by the lake. She was always chattering about the plants and the trees and the birds...and now I see she was always teaching me.
She died on a day in April seven years ago. And when I stepped out of the airport in South Carolina and stood on the curb waiting for my mother, I was forced to see that everything was in bloom. Everything. Purple. Red. Yellow. Orange. Fuschia. Light pink. Dogwoods. Azalias. Violets. Tulips. Redbud. Everywhere. When my mom drove me to the funeral home, I felt almost blinded by all the color that was such an over the top contrast to my cracked and starting to feel like it was crumbling heart.
When I returned home after her funeral, I didn't really notice Spring and how it gave way to Summer in my corner of the world. I was in the deep well of grief. But somewhere in that well, I found myself tumbling across a blog and then another one. And a bit of light started to get in. I started to carry my camera with me. I began to take notes about what I was seeing in the world. And the grief was thick. But I kept practicing yoga and taking photos and writing so I would not drown in it. And light kept coming in to those cracks in my heart that somehow did not crumble.
Almost a year later, I found myself somewhat bewildered that Spring would arrive without my grandmother's voice telling me about the flowers she had found blooming during her morning walk around her yard. Yet, Spring returned. And those flowers still bloomed across the country in my grandfather's yard. On the anniversary of her death, Gramps and I talked about how much we both missed her, and he told me the lily of the valley were almost ready to bloom.
On a day in March the following year, I remember sitting in the leather chair in my home office, looking out the window, and thinking about how the tulips were just pushing upward outside in my yard. And the missing hit me so hard I couldn't breathe for a moment. I just sat there with my heart hurting and my brain remembering. And I heard the chickadees singing in the cherry tree outside and this image came to me: Perhaps all that she was that is scattered in the world...scattered because of each breath, each conversation, each life path that crossed hers, each person that her children and grandchildren touched...that all of who she was is now part of the spirit that reminds each tulip and crocus and dandelion to bloom.
I had the thought that perhaps she has just become part of Spring. Maybe she even is Spring now.
I sat there in that chair and wrote this poem:
On this day,
when the sun slips through the gray
and I hear the tulips push upward,
I know this:
Though I ache to lay my hand in yours
and walk around your yard
as you name each stretching green shoot,
you are happier dancing in the wind
Today, as I sit here in a coffee shop writing as the rain falls and the tulips begin to bloom because Spring has arrived again, I am thinking about how this image of my grandmother reminding Spring to begin keeps finding its way into my writing and my poetry. I am thinking about how this image is like a prayer that is helping to stitch my heart together in the way that life does because we make the choice to keep paying attention and living and noticing how simply brilliant it is.
And as I sit here thinking about how Spring has returned again, I am thinking about how I am here doing this work, living this life, because I spent time in that deep well of grief and found my way out through breathing and noticing and sharing the stories and listening. And I kept walking the path, and with each turn there would be someone else standing holding her story like a lantern saying, “Me too. I know. Yes. Me too.” And I found my way.
I sit here watching the rain and wanting to get so damn mad at Spring for appearing again and reminding me of the deep missing, but I can I hear her whispering “grow, grow,” and so I just keep writing and finding my way.